|Roberto Clemente, Jose Bautista, Josh Hamilton and Johan Santana were all picked in the Rule 5 draft. (Getty Images)|
The winter meetings will conclude Thursday with the annual Rule 5 draft, when major-league teams have the chance to poach players from other organizations who are not on the 40-man roster and have been in the minor-league system for too long.
A pick in the Rule 5 draft costs a team $50,000, and to keep the player, the selecting team has to keep the player on the major-league roster for the entire season, or then be offered back to their original team for half the price or a trade. There's also minor-league phases of the draft, but the big-league version is where most of the real action lies.
It's a gamble -- but it does produce players. Last year the Astros took right-hander Rhiner Cruz with the first pick and he pitched in 52 games for Houston. Seattle took lefty Lucas Luetge from the Brewers, and he appeared in 63 games for Seattle, picking up two saves. Cubs right-hander Lendy Castillo and Orioles infielder Ryan Flaherty also stuck last season after being picked in the big-league portion of the Rule 5 draft.
None of those is exactly a household name -- and it's certainly more common for teams to return their Rule 5 picks than for them to stick -- but a star can come out of the Rule 5 draft. Here's a quick look at an all-star team, of sorts, made up completely of those players who were Rule 5 picks and stuck with their team for an entire year to complete the process:
SP -- Johan Santana 1999 by Twins from Astros
RP -- Willie Hernandez 1976 by Cubs from Phillies
C -- Jody Davis 1980 by Cubs from Cardinals
1B -- Darrell Evans 1968 by Braves from A's
2B -- Dan Uggla 2005 by Marlins from Diamondbacks
SS -- Everth Cabrera 2008 by Padres from Rockies
3B -- Jose Bautista 2003 by Orioles from Pirates
LF -- George Bell 1980 by Blue Jays from Phillies
CF -- Josh Hamilton 2006 by Reds (via Cubs) from Rays
RF -- Roberto Clemente 1954 by Pirates from Dodgers
DH -- Bobby Bonilla 1985 by White Sox from Pirates